Police Have Captured A Man Accused Of Holding His Girlfriend Hostage In A Wise County Home. 31 Year Old Randolph Ray Willis. Was On The Run After Authorities Responded To A Call About A Female Abduction On Elm Aveneue Outside Of Coeburn. Police Were Able To Get Two Women Out Of The Home. Willis Is Also Charged With Five Counts Of Probation Violation Out Of Scott County.
A very long siege of wildfire activity, which shows no signs of coming to an end, is taking its toll on firefighting resources in Texas and Oklahoma. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned, homes have been lost and there have been several injuries and fatalities over the last several weeks.
Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) Chief of Operations Ed Zimmer said, “Our friends in the Southwest are on their second month of ongoing, significant fire activity and need some help.” He and the VDOF Chief of Emergency Response John Miller agreed that Virginia could do just that.
John Miller said, “The recent rains could not have come at a better time as this will allow us to help our neighbors to the Southwest.” The Virginia Department of Forestry realizes that their number-one responsibility is protecting Virginia citizens and resources; but agreements are also in place that allow for sharing state resources for incident management and wildfire control
Nine highly trained and qualified agency personnel were dispatched to Texas and Oklahoma Sunday. Their expertise includes incident management, heavy equipment operation and direct wildland firefighting experience. Today the agency is sending an additional two brush trucks with four experienced personnel. Finally, a fourteenth VDOF employee is assisting with a fire investigation in Oklahoma. Agency personnel are typically deployed for 14 days, and all of the related agency expenses will be reimbursed by the receiving state.
MECC Foundation to Host Benefit For Sue Ella Boatright-Wells Mountain Music School Memorial Scholarship
Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host a special benefit featuring internationally-acclaimed musical group The Black Lillies on Sunday, April 29 at 3 p.m. in the Goodloe Center.
Tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased online at www.meccfoundation.org/mmsbenefit/. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Sue Ella Boatright-Wells Mountain Music School Memorial Scholarship. Backdraft Barbecue (food truck) will be available on campus for food purchases.
Sue Ella Boatright-Wells served as the Dean of Workforce Development for Mountain Empire Community College for 39 years. She touched hundreds of lives in her efforts to keep the culture and traditions of the Southwest Virginia region alive and growing, serving as a tireless advocate for workforce programs in Southwest Virginia. Sue Ella, who passed away in July of 2016, was the primary coordinator of the Home Craft Days Festival, was instrumental in the development of MECC’s Mountain Music School, and the Wise County and Scott County Jams afterschool program.
The scholarship, named in her honor, supports students who wish to attend the Mountain Music School one-week event held annually during the fourth week in July. Located in Big Stone Gap, Va., the school provides opportunities for students age 10 and up to experience traditional old-time music with fun and supportive instruction. Students may select an instrument and skill level of their choice, including beginning and advanced "old-time" fiddle, claw-hammer banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, autoharp, and dog house bass. A limited number of instruments are available for loan for the week. In addition, those with intermediate and advanced skills can participate in an optional string-band class. Dance and sing along at daily concerts featuring some of the region’s most gifted old-time musicians. To learn more or to enroll, visitwww.mountainmusicschool.org.
With four albums under their belts, The Black Lillies have been a mainstay on radio and album sales charts, winning praise from outlets including American Songwriter, Rolling Stone, NPR, CMT, Wall Street Journal and Billboard. With their blend of folk, soul, red dirt country, blue and rock, The Black Lillies have enthralled audiences at festivals including Bonnaroo Music + Arts, New Orleans Jazz Fest, MerleFest, Stagecoach, CMA Fest & Fan Fair, and Pickathon. Equally at home on theatre stages and in rock clubs, they were one of the first independent bands to play the Grand Ole Opry and have since returned dozens of times.
For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit www.meccfoundation.org/mmsbenefit.
Jack Leroy Schench, age 35, of Oneida, Tennessee, was sentenced on Monday, April 9, 2018 in the Wise County Circuit Court for one count of Carnal Knowledge, without the use of force, of a child thirteen years of age or older but under fifteen years of age. Schench previously pleaded guilty to the crime on August 23, 2017. Schench did not have a plea agreement from prosecutors. Thus, his sentence was determined by a judge after hearing evidence from both the prosecution and defense. Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp asked the court to sentence Schench to the maximum punishment allowed under Virginia law for this crime, ten years.
After the lengthy sentencing hearing, which did not end until nearly 7:00 p.m. on Monday night, Schench was sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary with four years and six months suspended. He will serve an active sentence of five years and six months within the custody of the Virginia Department of Corrections. Following his release, Schench will be on probation and will be required to register as a sex offender.
The case was successfully prosecuted by Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp and Deputy Commonwealth's Attorneys Josh Newberry and Brett Hall.
Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said, "April is sexual abuse awareness month and child abuse prevention month. During this month, we pause to remember those victims who have suffered because of these types of crimes, to pray for their continued healing, and to offer thanks to those who work to prevent future crimes. Throughout the year, not just during the month of April, my office will continue to aggressively prosecute and seek harsh punishment for anyone who harms a child."
Slemp thanked the law enforcement agencies and officers who worked the case and made a conviction possible, including the Wise County Sheriff's Department and Investigator Charles Curry.
Appalachia Virginia Town Leaders Are Seeking Advice From Three State Agencies On A Proposed Logging Operation Near The Town’s Water Supply. Southern Forest Products Has Proposed Logging Up To 450 Acres In The Area. Town Manager Fred Luntsford Said Consultations Are Ongoing With State Officials And No Decision Has Been Made.
Testimony Will Resume Friday Morning In A Sentencing Hearing For A Norton Virginia Man Who Pleaded Guilty In 2016 In The Shooting Death Of His Ex-Girlfriend, Kristina Padilla Of Appalachia.29 Year Old Matthew Tate, Who Shot The Victim Four Times. He Pleaded Guilty To Charges Of First Degree Murder And The Use Of A Firearm In The Commission Of A Felony. Tate Faces Up To Life Plus Three Years In Prison.
An Early Morning House Fire In Lee County Virginia Has Claimed The Life Of One Person. It Happened On Stillhouse Hollow Drive Near The Big Stone Gap Line. Several Fire Departments Responded To The Scene. Sheriff Gary Parsons Said Virginia State Police Are Investigating The Blaze Which They Say Does Not Appear To Be Suspicious In Nature. The Body’s Been Taken To The Medical Examiner’s Office In Roanoke For Examination And Identification.
C.H. "Chuck" Slemp, III, Commonwealth's Attorney for Wise County & the City of Norton delivered a report to Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes detailing the findings and legal conclusions from an officer involved shooting that occurred in Big Stone Gap on Monday, March 26, 2018.
The report, attached hereto for reference, has been prepared after a careful review and analysis of the independent investigation into this matter conducted at the request of Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said, "Since receiving the investigation report from the Virginia State Police, my office has been working diligently to review the information to assess the facts, conduct our own independent and unbiased review, and thoroughly examine with great care the use of force to determine under Virginia law whether a crime has been committed."
In a letter to Sheriff Oakes, Slemp sates "The independent investigation into the shooting of Nathan Curtis Castle has been completed by my office. Applying the facts from the investigation to applicable Virginia law, criminal charges will not be filed against the officers who discharged their weapons."
With the letter, Slemp included a formal report with specific factual findings and legal conclusions. The report states, "The Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney for Wise County hereby finds the deputies involved in this shooting to be justified in their actions. When an individual threatened them with death or serious bodily harm, they acted in an appropriate manner in accordance with the laws of Virginia."
The report provides a specific factual summary of the events that occurred on March 26, 2018, beginning at approximately 6:00 p.m.
Slemp's report also provides that:
"The driver provoked an armed confrontation and pointed his shotgun at the deputies. They acted only in self defense. In fact, the deputies would have been justified in using deadly force far earlier than they actually did. They went above and beyond the legal standard in their attempts to resolve this without the use of deadly force. In the end, it was the driver's act of pointing a shotgun the deputies had seen him loading which required the deputies to respond.
As such, under Virginia's law of self defense, the deputies act was one of justifiable self defense. Furthermore, under the standard which applies specifically to law enforcement officers, the driver posed a threat of serious physical harm to the deputies, the amount of force used was reasonable and not excessive to the threat, and reasonable apprehension of imminent danger came when the driver raised the shotgun to point it at the deputies."
The names of the officers involved in this incident and other specific details are not being released by the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office. Slemp explained, "I will not release the names of the officers involved in this incident because I am concerned for the continued safety of the officers and their families since the individual involved has very strong and documented ties to known criminal gangs."
At a press conference today, Slemp stated, "It is very unfortunate that a life was lost.
We pray for the family of this suspect. But we also commend, the actions of the officers involved in protecting themselves and others. It is because of their decisive action that day, training and experience, and excellent use of good judgment that innocent lives were not harmed that day by the suspect's actions. These officers did what they are trained to do in order to protect the public and themselves. They acted properly and in accord with the laws of Virginia. I am thankful for these officers and others who work daily, putting their own lives on the line, to keep us safe."
A Southwest Virginia Woman Has Been Charged In The Death Of A Man Decapitated In West Virginia. The Body Of 29 Year Old Bo White Was Found April First In His Home. 41 Year Old Roena Mills Is Charged With Second Degree Murder. Police Said Mills And White Knew Each Other, But Did Not Disclose A Motive For The Crime. Mills Is Being Held In The Southern Regional Jail. Her Bond Was Set At 210-Thousand Dollars.
The Johnson City Police Department Has Guns To Trade. The City Is Seeking A Federally Licensed Firearm Dealer To Trade 135 Confiscated Weapons In Exchange For Either Glock 21 Or Glock 30 Caliber Standard-Issue Handguns. The Mix Of Confiscated Guns Includes Shotguns, Handguns, Revolvers And Rifles. The Trade Will Help Provide Weapons For The Police Department, At The Same Time, Saving It Money.